Running Dry in D.C.
 
 

    By Andrea Kemp, Roll Call Staff  /  May 3, 2007

A 19-minute call to action was presented Tuesday night in the Cannon Caucus Room, in the form of a documentary film screening involving global water issues.


“If the United States understood what is happening globally, there would be a greater United States response,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, said prior to the presentation of “Running Dry.” “Our job is to raise the awareness, to educate the public, and I am very confident that we can pass the funding that can begin to guide the solutions.”


Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), sponsor of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, a measure that aims to allow for access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries, shared similar sentiments with the chairman.

Stressing that water issues seem to be free as of now of bipartisan spats, Blumenauer noted that “unlike many of the issues, water does not suffer from these disabilities right now.”


Jim Thebaut, director of “Running Dry,” is an individual attune to the way that individuals within Congress, especially the water act’s namesake, the late Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), have addressed the water crisis over the years. After reading Simon’s book, “Tapped Out,” Thebaut said he “realized how important this issue is, and the fact that we need to have a massive public information program regarding this incredible issue.”

Patty Simon, wife of the late Senator, was on hand at Tuesday’s event and expressed gratitude for the documentary. “I think the documentary takes you places you just don’t normally see,” she said.

Simon also delivered her own call to action. “I want people to take the water issue seriously. It’s not something that we can put off,” she said.


“Running Dry” was produced in three forms. Aside from the 19-minute feature shown in Cannon, Thebaut also created 50- and 80-minute versions of the documentary. Large segments of “Running Dry” were filmed in what Thebaut describes as “areas where there is real geopolitical implications associated with the crisis,” including the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese border, India, China and Africa.


Thebaut also dedicated portions of the film to addressing water issues in the American South.

“I thought it was important to demonstrate that the United States is not exempt from the global water crisis,” Thebaut said.


As for getting Congress to address the issue, Thebaut said the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act “has been unanimously passed — and signed by the president, but has yet to be funded.” The director was optimistic that Tuesday evening’s screening would be a positive step in helping to get the legislation funded.


Thebaut also was able to employ the duties of actress Jane Seymour, who not only lent her voice for the narration of the film but also created a print in conjunction with the film’s release. Speaking at Tuesday night’s event, Seymour expressed her own concern on the water crisis and the role it is playing in global conflicts.


“It is absolutely evident that right now — not 10 years from now — we are having a crisis when it comes to water,” Seymour said. “The lack of drinking water and the lack of sanitation for basically a third of the world is going to be the reason — and is already the reason — for wars.”


Thebaut, who has not yet decided how his documentary will reach the mainstream public, is nonetheless optimistic that “Running Dry” not only was the “genesis behind the Water for the Poor Act” but also has the potential to impact the way the government looks at issues relating to water.


“What I want to have happen is really a call to action in Congress to move it to the next level,” Thebaut said, “because I think the United States has a golden opportunity to take the leadership role throughout world in terms of dealing with these issues.”


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‘Running Dry’ Highlights Global Water Issues
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